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ZIMMERMAN - Michael Paul - 02/05/2017

Parole Hearing
Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002

Michael Paul ZIMMERMAN

Hearing:2 May 2017 at [withheld] Prison via AVL to New Zealand Parole Board

Members of the Board:

  • Mr N Trendle – Panel Convenor
  • Mr D Hauraki
  • Mr B McMurray

Support People:

  • [withheld]
  • [withheld]
  • [withheld]

DECISION OF THE BOARD

1. Michael Paul Zimmerman is making his first appearance before the Board on a sentence of seven years’ imprisonment for manslaughter and obstructing justice.  The seriousness of his offending was marked by the sentencing Judge with the imposition of a minimum period of imprisonment of three years, six months.  His statutory release date is 27 November 2020.

2. Mr Zimmerman has a short history of offending.  His RoC*RoI is .20349.  This is his first time in prison.

3. Prior to today’s hearing the Board met with family members of his victim.  They are, of course, victims themselves.  We relayed to Mr Zimmerman the main points of that meeting that were of concern to his victims.  First, they told us that Mr Zimmerman had shown no signs of remorse.  Secondly, there was little sign that he had taken responsibility for his role in the offending.  Thirdly, whilst he had participated in an alcohol related programme he had yet to undertake any treatment for violence.  They raised the question of whether he should participate in psychological counselling.  Fourthly, upon release they did not wish him to enter the area which they and family members live.  Those areas were identified as Hawke’s Bay, Taupo and Manawatu/Horowhenua north of Otaki.

4. When the last point was conveyed to Mr Zimmerman, he said he accepted that he would not enter his victims’ space.  He told us that he fully acknowledged his role in and responsibility for the death of Mr Valentine on 1 February 2013.  He said he accepted that he should have done something to nip it in the bud before it started.  He knew Michael his victim.  He was a friend.  He repeated that he was unable to fathom why he did not stop it before it started.  He told us that he was sorry for what he did, particularly to Michael’s family.  For himself, whilst he is doing his time now, he will carry responsibility for Michael’s death for the rest of his life.  He recognised that the effects will live with Mr Valentine’s family for life.  He could only apologise and said he would participate in a meeting to do that face to face if they wished to engage in a restorative justice meeting.

5. Mr Zimmerman’s expression of remorse for what he did was reflected in the written material he put before the Board.  To date on this sentence he has completed the [withheld]  Programme.  As his RoC*RoI is below the threshold that enables him to attend the [withheld] Programme, it has not been possible for him to participate in an intervention specifically related to violent offending.  He said he had asked to attend that programme but was told he was ineligible to do so.

6. In prison Mr Zimmerman’s conduct has been above reproach.  He is a minimum security prisoner.  His participation in the [withheld] Programme was positive.  The comment is made in the report that Mr Zimmerman was motivated to change.

7. Members of Mr Zimmerman’s family attended in support.  Upon release he is proposing to live with [withheld].  His family will provide additional prosocial support.

8. The Board is of the view that Mr Zimmerman has completed the rehabilitation phase of his sentence and that whilst he is eligible to participate in [withheld], a period of reintegration activity is not required in his case.  We note however, he is yet to participate in a reintegration meeting with his support people.

9. Mr Zimmerman has completed a safety plan which he forwarded to the Board.  It remains for him to review that plan with his case manager and thereafter for his case manager to convene a reintegration meeting where he would present the plan to his support network  and, if possible, his Probation Officer.  The Board is of the view that should be completed before he is released from prison.

10. Today parole must be declined.  Until that important step is completed the Board could not be satisfied that his release would not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community.  Moreover, we are of the view that the Board requires a completed Residential Restrictions Report before release is considered so that option is available when he returns to the community.  Having regard to Mr Zimmerman’s acceptance of the areas to which he should not travel when he is released, the Board is of the view at this point that GPS monitoring is not required.

11. He will be seen again in three months by 30 August 2017.

Mr N Trendle
Panel Convenor